Santagata, Sommariva, De Cecco: tales of families, companies and olive oil

Three Italian companies with glorious history and a focus on the future, prepared for a “nouvelle vague” of the Olive Oil production, completely Italian. With Cristina Santagata, moderated by Luigi Caricato on the stage of OliOfficina – which is the most innovative and influential Italian event dedicated to the oil of olives and its culture – in the section on new trends, Agostino Sommariva of “Sommariva Agricola Tradition” and Marco Camplone of “De Cecco”, compare their experiences and their awareness of the difficulties of the system and market trends.

The debate focused on the bounds with the past and the importance of enhancing traditions. The Italian experience and professionalism in the world of olive oil have deep roots, but at the same time need to break with the past to overcome some errors, such as the inability to make an integrated system. The recall is a tradition that has to be reconstructed and retold starting from the role of each part of the chain (production, distribution, sales and tasting).

The information on the oil is in fact very poor and often “against it”. An information that when it is done in a correct and conscious way could easily impress the audience. This is the case of chefs who bring the bottle to the table to raise awareness about the product that is not just a seasoning but it is culture (in Italy we have over 500 different cultivars and an incredible wealth in olive oil between pairings and dishes). As well as this is the case of the tasting sessions organized at OliOfficina and specifically dedicated to the “non-experts”: rooms full, sold-out, enthusiastic people focused to find the right words to describe the flavors and bouquets they taste.

There is much to be done in order to spread the culture of oil, but many protagonist of this “world” are willing to go straight forward. OliOfficina is one of the steps of this path.

Americans, food and olive oil

American culture pays increasing attention to food quality and a more healthy diet. In some States – such as California – the interest to high quality products and the habit of healthy behaviors are already widespread, but the trend is spreading in all the States. This approach involves extra virgin olive oil, increasingly used not only as a condiment for salads, vegetables and bruschetta but also as a viable alternative to cook in a healthy way.

Chefs and restaurants offer more and more frequently dishes prepared with extra virgin olive oil, while importers and food distributors are increasing their abilities to taste and select extra virgin oils. These behaviours are fundamental to reinforce extra virgin olive oil culture and to affirm extra virgin olive oil as a good, healthy and essential product in our everyday diet.

The links between Italy and the US have always been very strong, expecially those related to Italian cuisine and tradition. USA are the first country in the world for the importation of olive oil and in their restaurants is quite common – much more than here – the habit to serve few slices of bread accompanied by a cup of extra virgin olive oil. So – waiting for their dishes – customers can enjoy “pane e olio”!

With TUTTOFOOD, Milan gastronomic capital of the world

The 2017 edition of “TUTTOFOOD Milan” ended a few days ago: there were over 80 000 visitors who work in the agri-food industry, the 23% of them are foreigners coming from 141 different countries, confirming that the manifestation plays now a role at a global level) and that Milan is known as a quality meal “hub”, attesting to the number and profile of Expo2015 experience.
Particularly significant is also the data of “business matching” which – from an online platform – has allowed to set over 30,000 targeted meetings between exhibitors and buyers. We also, with our products of Santagata and Frantoio di Portofino’s brand and in collaboration with the Gastronomica network we are part of, we have benefited and have had the opportunity to meet and establish relationship with new contacts at national and international level, as well as consolidated relationships with customers and realities already known.
Also interesting it’s the start of the “fuori salone” Week & Food, which has recorded more than 48,000 participants at the initiatives organized in the city, confirming Milan not only as mondial “food city” but especially a way to propose nutrition that is increasingly able to hold together Economic and business aspects, with those of quality and culture, with even more complex issues such as hunger in the world and environmental resources.
Thanks to those who came to visit us at the Gastronomica stand, we hope that the experience has been interesting in the content and in the opportunities created, as it was for us.

High quality from the first pressing

With the start of the new olive oil harvest, Santagata has intensified its activity. As part of our activity consists in tasting and selecting olive oils, at this time of the year daily tasting sessions become central. In Italy, the olive season begins in October with the harvest in Sicily, followed by Puglia in November and then all the other regions.

Olio extravergine di oliva nuova spremitura. Santagata 1907We receive dozens of olive oil samples from our suppliers every day. Being the first productions, we encounter both top quality products and olive oils which are not perfect yet, due to the initial pressing activity of the mills. Understanding the potential of these oils is our expertise.

All our suppliers are highly qualified companies that have been cooperating with us for a long time and that we follow during the entire year throughout the olive cultivation and production process. The characteristics of the first olive oils might not match with those of the subsequent productsions, but help us understand the quality potential of their region or sub-region.

The reassuring element for the entire sector is that olive oils that are currently being produced are of the highest quality on average.

In the Mediterranean basin, of course, there is not only Italy among the major live oil producing countries. While Spain, the first producer by quantity, had to delay the harvest due to the summer drought, Tunisia’s abundant output seems to be of particular interest. Tunisian contribution is crucial for the entire Mediterranean area where traditionally olive oil is consumed in large quantities – with Italy at the forefront.

This hectic tasting and selection phase will absorb our business until the end of the year. This is the time of olio novello (new, fresh olive oil), which embodies the highest taste quality and organoleptic intensity, being the quality of an oil directly related to its freshness. For those who have never tried it, we suggest to taste fresh olive oil at this time of year to enjoy and appreciate intensity and differences.

Oil is the the history of the family

One hundred and ten years of an olive oil business in Liguria, as told from different perspectives

“The good fortune enjoyed by Italian olive oil production around the world owes everything to the family element, whose entrepreneurship has characterised the olive oil sector. Without the commitment, courage and important commercial insight of several historical families, the Italy we know and appreciate today as an important producer of olives, and olive oil, would not exist.”

(by Luigi Caricato, Preface)

 

On the occasion of 110th anniversary of the company, Santagata has published the book AN OLIVE OIL FAMILY. 110 years of an olive oil business in Liguria as told from different perspectives, written by Cristina and Federico Santagata and edited by the journalist and writer Luigi Caricato.
“The history of a family, an Italian story. An olive oil family: the Santagatas, from Liguria to the world.” This is the reference in the cover of the book published by Olio Officina, a publishing house specialized in olive oil, a point of reference for the Italian olive oil industry and beyond.

Company

The company started its activity in 1907, in the wonderful location of the hamlet of Camogli. That was the time when Giovanni Battista Santagata decided to turn his passion for high-quality olive oil into a successful company, which never forgot to focus its attention on the quality of its products and on the surrounding territory. Now, the company is based in Genoa and is managed with the same passion, dedication and professionalism by Cristina and Federico, fifth generation of Santagata family.
For over 100 years Santagata has been selecting high-quality olive oils and extra virgin oils, which are sold in Italy and worldwide in accordance with the most restrictive European rules and respecting rigid quality and safety standards. Throughout the year Santagata reviews all the production areas and it verifies the trees health conditions, because it is aware of the fact that the quality of finished products relies on the proper functioning of the whole ecosystem.
At present, the activity of Santagata is divided into the selection and trading of bulk products, which are specifically created for important national and international brands and for the food industry and, into the selection and trading of bottled products under the Santagata and Frantoio di Portofino brands, which are intended for the final consumer.

Book

As Cristina and Federico are not writers, they decided – in order to celebrate this important anniversary – to compile the book in collaboration with others, allowing the choral collective to arise.
Together with Luigi Caricato, many experts collaborated in the writing of the book: Tommaso Sitzia, professor of the University of Padua, Department of Territory and Agro-Forestry Systems wrote a scientific intervention on the importance of the cultivation of olive groves for environmental health; nutritionists Luca Spigno and Giulietta Spadafora on the role of olive oil in nutrition and its nutritional and healthful qualities; chefs Toni Mörwald, Seita Nakahara, Simon Gault, Ivano Ricchebono, Claudio Fortuna and Andrea De Galleani with their culinary proposals.
The common thread of the book is the voice of Cristina and Federico, the story of their family and their company, the centrality of a territory – the region of Liguria – and the constant attention and research to quality and innovation.

“One does not inherit a business simply because you were born into the family who founded and managed it for years. A business with strong family ties, like ours, also represents a way of being, an approach to life and a lifestyle. It is for this reason that we wanted to understand our past in the light of the present.”

(by Cristina and Federico Santagata, Introduction)

Authors

Cristina Santagata (1978) majored in Philosophy at the University of Genoa and holds a DEA form Paris-Sorbonne. After working for the prestigious Prada fashion house in the French capital, she returned to Genoa and devoted herself to the family enterprise. Today she is the chairwoman and handles the international markets.
Federico Santagata (1983), sportsman by vocation, is a ski instructor and passionate of water sports. He started his professional career in a well-known olive oil company, of which Santagata is shareholder, and later joined the family business where he is in charge of the selection of raw materials. He divides his time between tasting olive oil samples in the company and visiting olive farmers.
Luigi Caricato, journalist and writer, olive oil expert. He collaborates with the main national and international newspapers, has published numerous books on the theme of olive oil. He is director of the weekly “Olio Officina Magazine” and of the bilingual Italian / English quarterly OOF, runs the homonymous publishing house and organizes every year in Milan “Olio Officina Festival – Condiments for the palate & for the mind”. The next edition is scheduled from 1 to 3 February 2018 at the Palazzo delle Stelline in Milan.

Food Excellence Made in Liguria

For over 110 years, Santagata1907 – thanks to the highest respect of the Italian tradition, to the centenary passion and experience of a family – has been selecting high-quality olive oils and extra virgin oils, which are sold in Italy and worldwide, promoting the culture of olive oil olive and a healthy diet.

On the occasion of the meeting “Singapore: new business opportunities for Ligurian companies in the Asian city-state”, organized by Liguria International together with the Chamber of Commerce of Genoa (where the event took place on February 21st) , Liguria Region and Italian Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, Cristina Santagata testified her experience in Singapore, where the company has been present for ten years with a representative office to do business and manage exports throughout Southeast Asia.

“10 years ago there were rare cases of companies in the sector with a representative office in Singapore, our headquarters in the city-state is a fundamental bridge for all of Southeast Asia that increasingly appreciates food products Made in Italy”. A macro area that today represents about 30% of the company’s total exports, after Europe. In Singapore, Santagata products are present in the highest quality restaurants and hotels.

CIBUS, Parma, 7th-10th May

From 7 to 10 May Parma will host the 19th edition of CIBUS, the most important Italian food exhibition. A true platform for Italian food on the international markets, CIBUS will host about three thousand exhibitors  and  eighty thousand professionals are expected to attend. In addition to the stands, four days of meetings, tastings and cooking shows.

Santagata Company will be showcasing its Frantoio di Portofino products, premium-quality extra virgin olive oils from the heart of the Ligurian Riviera. We will find us in Hall 07, stand C 073, in collaboration with Gastronomica, an Italian network that associates high quality food companies to promote traditional Italian ingredients.

Along with extra virgin olive oil, our stand will showcase Caffè Ronchese, unique aroma of wood-roasted coffee since 1959; a wide range of chocolates, nougats and sweets produced by Rossignotti, a confectionery company founded in 1940; Genoese pesto prepared with the best traditional ingredients by Rossi since 1947and PockEat’s freshly-cooked dishes delivered to your home for a healthy and wholesome lunch break.

The heart of the territory

Dealing with oil, for the past 110 years now, we cannot, in our work, deny our connection with the territory. Its true place of origin and foundation which, for obvious reasons, later becomes its chosen place, is highly important. Although the market takes us everywhere in the world, from continent to the continent, especially now in a global society – we the Santagata family, and at the same time as a company – feel strongly connected to where it all began. It’s a question of affection. We strongly believe in the fundamental values of family, territory and cultural identity, as well as in sharing these same values. Hence our commitment to the cultural front, not for reasons of aesthetics, which are also important in themselves, but from a strictly ethical point of view. Moreover, sharing our reference values is also a way to better ourselves and those who around us. This is why we have undertaken so many initiatives and will continue to do so because we believe they are essential.

This text is taken from chapter 2 of the book “An Olive Oil Family” written by Cristina and Federico Santagata, published by Olio Officina Edizioni.